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The Northern Snakehead Fish Is Invasive, Aggressive, And Can Survive For Days On Dry Land

Dushantha - stock.adobe.com - illustrative purposes only, not the actual fish

In May, a northern snakehead fish was caught at Wappapello Lake Spillway in Missouri, marking the fourth time that the creature has been spotted in the state, according to the Missouri Department of Conservation.

The first thing to know about the northern snakehead fish is that it has the head of a snake and a long body covered in python-like scales.

Generally, it is tan in color with dark brown markings. It can grow up to three feet in length and uses tiny, sharp teeth to feast on crustaceans, frogs, small reptiles, other fish, and sometimes even small birds and mammals.

It breathes air and slithers just like a snake. It can also survive for several days on dry land as long as they stay in a moist environment. Additionally, the northern snakehead fish is an invasive species. It is not native to the United States and is actually from Asia.

The aggressive, bizarre-looking fish affects native species since it is both preying on them and competing against them for resources. It does not have any natural predators in North American waters, allowing them to grow and reproduce at rapid rates.

As a result, they disrupt the balance of the ecosystem. Another concern is that they may introduce parasites and diseases to native fish populations.

The latest discovery is the fourth time that someone has come across the northern snakehead fish in the state of Missouri. The first one was found in a ditch within the St. Francis River levees back in 2019.

Last year, two more were caught. The fisher who reeled in the fourth one was in for quite a surprise when they saw it on the other end of their line.

“The angler recognized they had something different and researched the fish’s characteristics and realized it was indeed a snakehead,” Dave Knuth, a biologist at the Missouri Department of Conservation, said. “The angler left it on the pavement for several hours, thinking it would die, and it never did.”

Dushantha – stock.adobe.com – illustrative purposes only, not the actual fish

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